The 2012 season was impressive and unforgettable for the Penn State Nittany Lions. In spite of the adversity facing the team, the Lions finished with an 8-4 record and had several players earn postseason awards and recognition.
The Lions were led by a mix of seniors and underclassmen who stepped up to play key roles. Zach Zwinak, Allen Robinson, Kyle Carter and Deion Barnes all had solid seasons and played important parts in the success of the Lions.
However, there are two players who stood out from the rest in 2012 as MVPs for the Nittany Lions.
Offense: QB Matt McGloin
Perhaps no Penn State player was more improved in 2012 than McGloin. 2011 saw him splitting time with Rob Bolden and never really getting on track. He finished the 2011 season with just 1,571 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions.
Things changed for the better in 2012 for the senior when Bill O'Brien became head coach and implemented his NFL-style offense. McGloin became the leader of the offense and put up huge numbers for the Lions.
He finished the year with 3,271 yards, 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
The Penn State offense transformed from a run-first game plan to a full-out passing attack. McGloin took full advantage and kept the Lions in every game with his arm. He looked comfortable in the pocket and minimized the mistakes in 2012.
McGloin threw a touchdown pass in every game this season and was an honorable mention for the All-Big Ten team.
Through he wasn't the only reason for the success of the Penn State offense in 2012, there's no question that it all started with the quarterback position. McGloin's season makes him the most valuable player on offense for the Nittany Lions.
Defense: LB Michael Mauti
Even before the season started, it was clear that Michael Mauti would play a huge role for the Nittany Lions. After the release of the Freeh Report and the NCAA sanctions were handed down in July, Mauti spoke out as the vocal leader.
ESPN.com posted a video of his comments.
Mauti stated, "No one (current player) had anything to do with that, but, yeah, we're paying the consequences and that's OK," he said. "That's the situation we're in. ... We're looking to create a new legacy here, something special."
On the field, Mauti showed why he was considered as one of the best linebackers in the country heading into the year. All of the defensive communication ran through him and his hard play inspired others to play tough.
Unfortunately for Mauti, his season was cut short when he suffered a knee injury in the next-to-last game of the year against Indiana. Even with the missed games, he was second on the team with 95 tackles. The senior also added two-and-a-half sacks, three forced fumbles and three interceptions.
Mauti was rewarded for his hard work by being named to the All-Big Ten first team. He was hands down the most valuable player for the Nittany Lions on defense in 2012.